A Very Distillerista Gift Guide!

The Holidays are here, can you believe it?! Below are some of the things I’m gifting – and wishing for! – this year… whether you’re searching for something for the traveler, spirits enthusiast, aspiring distiller or ultimate host(ess) in your life, I’ve got you covered!

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For the traveler…

Away Suitcase (pictured) I SWEAR by my bigger carry on from AWAY. I love this thing so much, I bought one for my fiancé too. They hold SO MUCH (seriously, I packed for two+ weeks in New Zealand with just this one bag! And we know I don’t like to outfit repeat…) and they’re incredibly durable and easy to maneuver. Plus all the fun colors to choose from! You’ll never by another suitcase again.

En Route Passport Holder (pictured) A cute passport cover makes a great stocking stuffer for your wanderlust-ing bestie.

Carry On Cocktail Kit (pictured) I – honestly – never fly without one, and neither should you! Or anyone you love. I’m all about elevating your imbibing experience, and that means when you’re flying too.

Silk Eye Mask (pictured) Nothing like a chic silk eye mask to make coach feel a little more luxurious!

Hydrating Sheet mask… I love embarrassing my fiancé on long flights and throwing on a sheet mask (bonus points if you do it WITH the eye mask!) What better time to multi-task than on a long flight, self-care included!

 

For the spirits enthusiast or aspiring distiller… 

Gin Making Kit (pictured) Have a budding distiller on your hands? Get them an at-home gin making kit!

Sunday Gin (pictured) It wouldn’t be a Distillerista gift guide if I didn’t include a bottle of Sunday Gin! I may be a little biased, but that aside, it’s a lovely entry point enter the world of gin for a friend who may need a little coaxing over to the good side! Check out our website for where to buy (shipping options included), or pop by the tasting room to pick up a bottle.

Cocktail Class (pictured) If your gift recipient is local to San Diego, consider purchasing them two tickets to one of our cocktail classes! Such a great way to learn – or brush up – on the basics of cocktail making and a fun date night idea to boot.

Large format ice molds (pictured) No better way to enjoy your favorite spirits than over a large format ice cube. They provide the bit of chill you’re looking for plus slow dilution.

Table Top Distilling Book For the more studious spirits enthusiast, a wealth of knowledge on small-scale at-home distilling lies in this wonderful book!

 

For the ultimate host or hostess in your life… or anyone really!

Seasonal Candle with Cloche (pictured) No one was ever mad about receiving a candle! And this glass cloche provides an extra bit of elegance.

Chic Corkcicle cooler tote (pictured) Such a game changer! No more lugging around a sad styrofoam box. Throw a few bottles of wine (or better yet, canned cocktails!) into this cooler bag and head to the park incognito!

Large marble + brass serving stand Bonus points if you gift it with treats already nestled on top!

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A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

It doesn’t take much to get me back to the south, but when the National Honey Board reached out to invite me (!!!) to this year’s #HoneySpiritsSummit in Nashville, TN I couldn’t respond YES quick enough! And in true LKJ fashion, I had to come out a few days early to soak up one of my favorite cities before the summit kicked off. Here’s what my jam-packed week in Nashville looked like…

Day 1 – THURSDAY

After landing at the airport Thursday afternoon, we caught a Lyft to our home for the weekend, the newly opened Thompson Nashville (I twisted Luke’s arm superrrr hard to spend the weekend with me before the Summit started on Monday 😉 ). We love Thompson properties, especially their Cabo location, so we thought we’d see what the Nashville location was all about. It was even more beautiful than we expected, and best of all, located in the ultra trendy Gulch neighborhood (word has it TSwift’s got a Penthouse nearby). Looking for a little post-flight pick-me-up after checking into our room, we grabbed cappuccinos at the Killebrew Coffee conveniently located just adjacent to the lobby and headed out for some Vitamin D, after which we practically walked right into Rod Stewart on the street! Perks of visiting Music City!

After exploring The Gulch a bit and working up an appetite, we grabbed a Lyft to the 12 South neighborhood for some tacos and margs at bartaco, followed by more strolling and shopping. Definitely one of the better Margaritas I’ve had, plus great people watching and super cute southern coastal decor. Full and ready for a nap/regroup, we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Once sufficiently well-rested for our first night out, we got dolled up and headed upstairs to the Thompson’s rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, for some pre-dinner drinks! After watching the sunset up top, we headed out for dinner at Husk. I love scheduling a fun dinner reservation on the first night of a trip because it’s something to look forward to right when you get there, and saves you the hassle of making a decision after a potentially hectic travel day.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-beers-spillDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-rooftop-drinksDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-husk Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-husk-dinner

Day 2 – FRIDAY

After banging out some emails (with more Killebrew coffee!) in the lobby, we put the laptops away and headed out for a big walk through the touristy Broadway strip. Having had our fair share of people watching pretty quickly (lost count of how many rowdy bachelorette parties we saw omg), we ducked into Martin’s BBQ for lunch and some reconnaissance on their award-winning beer garden.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-luke-lobbyDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-MartinsLooking to kill some time and get out of the heat, we headed to Corsair’s “Brewstillery” for a cold beer. Highly recommend their brewery/distillery tour too if you have some time! This location is where they do most of the brewing and distilling of their whiskey mashes.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-corsairOn a whim, we called The Kimpton Aertson hotel (another one of our favorite hotel groups!), to see if they had any availability for massages, and they just happened to have an opening for a couples’ deep tissue in 20 minutes! It was FATE! We chugged our beers and headed for the spa.

Having stayed at the Aertson on a past trip, we knew they had an incredible bar and restaurant inside the hotel as well so we popped over for a post-massage cocktail and app. If you’re in the area, you MUST check Henley out. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-henley-cocktail{ post-massage cocktail! }

Continuing along my dream Friday itinerary, we headed back to the Thompson for some downtime, followed by another rooftop/sunset/drink session up top at L.A. Jackson.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-LaJackson

We had so many restaurants on our list for the second night but made a game-time decision to take our chances at brand spankin’ new restaurant Folk from the Rolf & Daughters team. I’m so happy we did because it ended up being one of the better meals I’ve ever had! We started with a cocktail while we waited to be seated, soaking in the minimalist decor and plethora of ultra cool Nashville locals chatting and flirting about. Once seated, we dove into their beautiful wine list, a juicy, salty Gamay for me and a Pinot Noir for Spook. We started with their sweet corn toast on house made sour dough (recreating this at home ASAP) and the shaved summer vegetable salad, which was the sleeper hit. Paper thin coins of zucchini and summer squash, expertly dressed with a buttermilk caesar dressing, topped with tons of fresh herbs and crunchy bread crumbs. TO.DIE. Honestly the apps were so good (slash maybe too many wines? lol) that I forget which pizza we ended up ordering ahahaha… I faintly remember some sort of Soppressata situation? Just go. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-FOLK { dining room @ Folk }

Feeling the vibes (read: sufficiently tipsy) from our time at Folk, we headed out for drinks at one of our favorite Nashville bars, Attaboy. This place is like, 95% of my dream cocktail bar, not kidding… We always say we’re just going to go for one and then three drinks later we’re still there, eyes glued to the bartenders doing their thing. You must, must, must go. Incredible service and lovely staff. 

Obviously on a good one, we ended the night with some shots of Bulleit and Budweisers at Robert’s Western World. Someone spread my ashes here when I go.

Day 3 – SATURDAY 

After a decent sleep in (thank you, second Shiner Bock at 2 am I didn’t need), we slowly made our way to the Johnny Cash museum for some A/C and non-alcoholic stimulation, followed by a delicious brunch at Butcher & Bee. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-butcher{ crispy rice bowl for me, burger for Spook and whipped feta for the table! plus rosé of course }

The combination of being slightlyyyyy hungover and the heat had us desperate for a pool so we called Holston House, the hotel I was set to check into the next day (for the summit) to see if we could use their pool a day early and they obliged (turns out their rooftop bar & pool is open to the public!). We nursed ourselves back to life with Gin & Tonics and stunning rooftop views while submerged in the cool water at Bar Tenn.

After a nap and a shower back at the Thompson, we headed out for our last dinner together at Oak Steakhouse… Would not recommend unfortunately.

Day 4 – SUNDAY

Never ones to miss out on a meal opportunity, we opted for brunch at Chef Maneet Chauhan-owned (the sweet Indian judge on Chopped!) Mockingbird before it was time for Luke to head to the airport. It was just an average experience unfortunately… wouldn’t necessarily recommend but dying to try her Curry & Masala house next door on our next trip!

Flying solo for the rest of the trip, I decided to check something off my Nashville list I’d been dying to do all weekend long (we kept missing the tour times thanks to other plans/hangovers, etc. lol). I dropped my bags off at Holston House and caught a Lyft out to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, a stunning historical mansion and botanical gardens in nearby Bell Meade, about a 25 minute drive or so from the city. See below for some snaps of the house and property! I could have stayed out there all day wandering along the gardens and cheeky animal installations but the rooftop pool back at the hotel was calling my name. 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Gator{ a temporary installation by Italian artist collective, Cracking Art }

After putting a solid dent in my book up by the pool, I debated staying in and watching TV with room service but rallied myself for yet another indulgent meal at Moto! After half a cheese plate and some of the best Cacio e Pepe I’ve had, it was time for bed. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bar-tenn

Day 5 – MONDAY

Attempting to counteract all the debauchery of the weekend, I woke up early and took a Pure Barre class in The Gulch, followed by a green juice next door. Having checked exercise/health off my to-do list for the day (hah), I headed to Pinewood Social to grab a coffee and get some work done. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-pinewood

Once sufficiently caffeinated and caught up on emails, lunch at Hattie B’s was in order, considering I’d been in Nashville for five days and somehow still hadn’t had my hot chicken fix! I get “hot” with “extra hot” on the side! And a sweet tea for putting out the fire 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-hattie-Bs

After catching up on more work, it was time for the Honey Summit opening reception at Nelson’s Green Briar Distillery! I got to meet my fellow attendees, try all different cask finishes of Bell Meade Bourbon and go on a tour of the distillery, led one of the founders himself! What an incredible story. I won’t ruin it for you but basically these two sons (both currently in their thirties I think?) happened upon a plaque in Bell Meade some years ago while on a road trip with their Dad and subsequently unearthed their family’s multigenerational distilling heritage! Fast forward a few years and a lot of hard work and they were able to get the original DSP number – TN-05 – reinstated and reopened the whole operation! If you’re in Nashville, PLEASE go sign up for a tour of their distillery and tasting room ASAP. So fascinating and inspiring.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bell-meade-bourbon Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-tour Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-rickhouse

Day 2 – TUESDAY

The first full day of the summit took place at Corsair’s second Nashville location and headquarters. It was a jam-packed day full of fun information and super knowledgeable speakers. We tasted tons of different styles of honey and honey spirits and learned so much about how honey is made, how hives work, the bee lifecycle and hierarchies/social systems and organizational patterns, how bees find nectar, etc. etc. Seriously so, so fascinating and informative. After our crash course on bees and honey, we moved onto fermenting, distilling, sweetening and flavoring spirits with honey. This was also incredibly informative and interesting. I can’t wait to start experimenting with honey in the distillery soon! It makes sense, considering honey is a sweetener like molasses and agave, but it was crazy how similar the honey spirits we tried tasted like either a rum and/or a tequila/mezcal. They have lovely smokey, grassy qualities to them, as well as a slight but pleasant funk. Right up my alley.

After our epic day, we were treated to an incredibly indulgent and delicious group dinner at Urban Grub back in the 12 South neighborhood. Would highly recommend!

Day 3 – WEDNESDAY

My last and final day in Nashville was my favorite and for one reason: Our visit to an actual apiary! An apiary is basically a controlled hive or group of hives. A “feral” apiary or hive would be a hive that has formed naturally in the wild. We kicked the day off bright and early as to avoid the heat and had so much fun listening to the president of the Nashville Beekeeper’s Association tell us about the apiary and state of pollinating conditions in the state currently. I couldn’t get enough. 

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After leaving the apiary, we headed to yet another distillery, Pennington Distilling Co. (formerly SPEAKeasy Spirits) for another tour and some lunch. Pennington makes a few different styles of whiskey, as well as flavored vodkas, which they use in their newly released canned cocktails. Considering our own upcoming release, I couldn’t wait to try one! 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Pickers

After Pennington it was time for most everyone from the summit to head to the airport. Lucky me, I had a later flight so I did a little more neighborhood hopping and shopping before grabbing one last margarita back at bartaco! Such a pleasant little spot to hang and finish my book before heading out of town. I also love the shops nearby – Draper James, White’s Mercantile and imogine + willie all had me wishing I’d brought a second suitcase! 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bartaco

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My DREAM Food And Beverage Concepts

I was reading a tip earlier this week from a blogging resource about what to write about when you get in a rut or haven’t been super creative in a while… they emphasized the importance of writing about what gets you excited, what you’re naturally passionate about so that the process of writing is fun and painless. I started to think about all the things I’m truly, inherently passionate about and one of those is, well, eating out! I genuinely love nothing more than experiencing a new-to-me food & bevvie concept, whether it be in San Diego or beyond. Getting to the restaurant and taking in the decor, music, the look of the staff, what they’re all wearing, how they’re working together, pouring over the menu and it’s themes or quirks in language, getting a pre-drink in the lounge or bar, making careful note of how and when they move us to a table, how they present the menu options, how they tag team service, etc. etc… I could go on and on but this is all to say, I am truly fascinated by the inner workings of any given hospitality concept.

This got me thinking, first about all my favorite restaurant experiences  (another post perhaps?) and from there, all the restaurant experiences I long for but have yet to find. Below is a somewhat silly yet utterly genuine list of my ULTIMATE dream food and beverage concepts or ideas. If you decide to execute one of these, no finder’s fee necessary. Just invite me to the grand opening, will you?

  1. A Chipotle-style Build Your Own Nachos vibe with craft cocktails on tap… a.k.a. not too far off new East Village hot spot Lola 55 – in terms of decor and steps of service – but with NACHOS. And like our beloved Chipotle, instead of white rice or brown rice yata yata yata, you’d be able to choose from blue or yellow or white corn tortilla chips, etc. then pick your protein and choose from fun toppings, different styles of cheese, at least two types of queso, omg someone PLEASE make this happen.                                                                                                                                  Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-Nachos{ in all honesty, is there any greater pairing than nachos and cocktails? @Punch Bowl Social}               
  2. If Gusta Pizza and Vino Carta had a baby… the best pizza on the planet is at Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Period. It’s located on the opposite side of the river from most of the touristy things, tucked away behind a sweet little piazza where locals come to hang and meet friends for Aperitivo. The menu is written on butcher paper on the wall and if you throw the pizzaiolo a cheeky smile, he may toss yours in the shape of heart. Pizzas take about 90 seconds to come out of the 8 zillion degree stone oven and trust me, they disappear almost as quickly. The only thing missing is a Marissa Ross-curated, Vino Carta-esque wine list chock full of obscure natural wines from Italian producers to sip between luscious bites.                                                                                      
  3. A fully grass-fed and -finished steakhouse with clean/real food sides… and table side Sunday Gin Martinis of course. All the classic cuts, plus a “sampler” style option where you can have a few ounces of fillet, a few ounces of a ribeye and/or a few ounces of your favorite cut, etc. (I hate having to choose between a ribeye and a fillet, lol #firstworldproblems) Then imagine all your favorite steakhouse sides – creamed spinach, mac & cheese, scalloped potatoes but with ultra ULTRA high quality, real food ingredients – Kerrygold butter, Clover Dairy, hyper local cheese and produce, etc. Basically my dream indulgent meal except I get to feel good about it after. On the drink menu? Food-friendly new world wines with a focus on underrated grape varietals.                                                                                                                                                                    
  4. Blow-your-mind Middle Eastern food with funky skin contacts wines, Pet-Nats, just barely effervescent Gamays and Molly Yeh as pastry chef… Ambiance is major Sex in the City 2 vibes. In terms of food, thinking Alon Shaya meets Byblos meets Kokkari Estiatorio. Does it get any SEXIER!?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-alonshaya{ an insanely satisfying lunch at Alon Shaya’s Saba in New Orleans – yes, that is blue crab & sweet corn hummus }
  5. Hi Ho / Shake Shack / In N Out, with choose your own “6-pack” buckets of beer and canned cocktails But every burger has two sizes so you can have like, sliders, of more than one style of burger.Because who wants to choose between the three best burgers in SoCal? Not me. Thinking we’re al fresco here. On a random highway route… like halfway between two major locales… a destination in itself along the journey. The type of place you “accidentally” sneak a canned cocktail roadie or two with you when you get back on the road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  6. An all day beer and wine garden with a Texas twist… local craft beer (plus a few of those love to hate ’em classics), all natural wines by the glass and bottle, plus meat and cheese boards to write home about, rotating chef pop ups, all polished off with subtle southern ice house vibes but in an urban setting. Stay tuned, ’cause this gal might just be bringing this one to ya in the near-ish future 😉                                                                                                                                                                        
  7. Last but not least, a rotating cocktail menu by me (high quality craft spirits only), wine list by Whitney Adams or Marissa Ross, and a new menu each season by a different chef… in no particular order, you are all welcome to sign up for your 3 month stint: Sean Brock, Stefani de Palma, Brian Redzikowski, Anne Marie Coulon, Giada, Ina, David Chang, Francis Mallman… I could keep typing my heroes forever but you get the idea!                                                                                Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-annemarie { Anne Marie’s “breakfast bruschetta” at my fave Little Lion }

What about you? What dream food and beverage concepts do you wish would come to life?! Tell me in the comments or DM me!

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Summer Road Trip: Central Coast

Even after all our 2018 travel so far, Luke and I knew we wanted to get out of town for the 4th of July. We originally had grand plans to finally check Montana off our list, but when our friends who live in Paso Robles – a small wine region just inland from San Luis Obispo – invited us up to their vineyard, we couldn’t resist!

Our friends Rich & Tracy own a gorgeous vineyard property in Paso, Terra Mia, with rows and rows of grapes (most of which are sold to nearby wineries), three homes and a gorgeous wedding and event venue (complete with a fresh water swimming pond!). It’s a stunning landscape from every angle and always such a treat when they invite us to stay! Depending on who else is around (Rich & Tracy are the ULTIMATE hosts and entertainers. I can’t remember a time we’ve visited where there hasn’t been at least one other friend, relative or couple also bunking at the vineyard!), we either stay with them in their home, or, as we did this past trip, in their adorable vacation rental down by the pond. They were kind enough to keep it off the booking site for us for the week of the 4th and it was soooo nice to have the little sanctuary all to ourselves. If you’re headed to Paso and looking for accommodations, I can’t recommend it enough.

DAY 1 // We drove up late Tuesday night so we could get a good sleep and wake up in wine country on the 4th! We left San Diego around 6:30 pm and made it to Paso by 11:30 pm, so easy. The Central Coast region of CA has so much to offer and if you time your drive right, it’s really not that bad. After a rest we woke up bright and early to experience the famous 4th of July parade in nearby Templeton. Armed with a cooler full of Bloody Marys and a veryyyy patriotic ride, we were off!

IMG_4157{ no better way to show up to an Independence Day Parade than in the bed of a red vintage Chevy }

As the parade wound down we made our way to our friends’ favorite wine bar in Templeton, 15 C, for some bubbles. After a few celebratory (‘Merica!) bottles of 15 C’s finest sparkling wines, we headed back to Terra Mia to freshen up and get ready for the barbecue Rich & Tracy had planned down by the pond.

IMG_6713{ we’re the kids in America :) }

I made a point to put my phone away at this point in the day, so no more photos, but it was so nice to just relax under the Willow trees, sample some incredible magnums of Justin Rosé, go to town on Santa Maria tri-tip and ribs, and swim in the pond amongst the Koi fish and ducks! A perfect afternoon if you ask me.

Once most of the BBQ guests trickled home, a shower and a refresh was in order. Then we made our way to the Pub! Not an actual Pub, mind you, but the one Rich has built into his home up the hill! It’s something of an honor to drink in Richie’s pub, and it’s usually where nights at Terra Mia end up! After a second feast on leftover ribs and one too many bottles of red (and a round or two of Sunday Gin & Ts of course!), we were down for a much needed snooze. 4th of July: Success.

DAY 2 // You might think we’d take it easy the day after the 4th but nope. Not when you’re in Paso. We grabbed a quick bite at one of favorite downtown Paso spots, La Cosecha. Little empanadas for an app, soup and a salad were just what we needed after a big 4th. Comfortably full and feeling mostly back to life, we headed straight to our happy place: Adelaida Vineyards! Adelaida is hands down one of our favorite vineyards in Paso. Their tasting room and property is gorgeous, and all their wines are estate grown. We lounged on their patio and took our sweet time tasting through their current line up. Once bottles were purchased for home it was off to our next adventure.

IMG_7735{ the views from Adelaida never get old! }

After a tasting at Adelaida we headed down the road to a new-to-us winery, McPrice Myers. We’d met the winemaker, McPrice (yes, his first name!) at the BBQ the day before and wanted to try his wines. After another lovely tasting we headed back into town for lunch.

IMG_9904{ ‘gramming at McPrice Myers }

We grabbed a quick sandwich at Red Scooter Deli, as we had a few sales appointments to get to (a little, work, a little play!). After successful meetings at a few more of our favorite spots: Third Base Market & Spirits (one of the most incredible selections of any gas station liquor store I’ve ever seen!), The Hatch and the. coolest. speakeasy, Eleven Twenty-Two, it was back to what we do best, lol.

IMG_1104{ working v v hard // sales appointment at The Hatch! }

Work done and dusted, we met up with Tracy and friends at Treana for some live music, paella and more vino of course! Every Thursday evening, Treana hosts these “Thirsty Thursdays,” with a different musician and food truck set up in their beautiful courtyard. Such a fun atmosphere! Definitely check this place out if you happen to be in Paso on a Thursday.

IMG_0189{ charming outdoor space at Treana }

As if we hadn’t imbibed enough (hah) on this 5th of July, we headed back to the Pub for a few too many You & Yours‘ cocktails (we always joke that we drink Rich & Tracy out of all the bottles we bring them before we’ve even left!) and a verrrrrrrry late but very delicious pasta dinner (because Paella is really just an appetizer, right?).

IMG_9925{ Sunset over Terra Mia! }

DAY 3 // The morning of July 6th was no one’s friend… I’ll just say that. After forcing ourselves to eat breakfast and a subsequent snooze on the couch, we rallied and did the only appropriate thing to do in such a state: head to another winery! And I’m SO glad we did because we found a new favorite, Clos Solène. Be sure to book ahead as Clos Solène is appointment only, but so so worth it. The property is currently being brilliantly replanted by the owners (an adorable Frenchman from SERIOUS winemaker lineage and his wife, Solène) but the tasting room attendants are incredibly knowledgeable, not to mention the wines are delectable. So clean, elegant and well made, you could drink each one for days, especially the Viognier blend (my favorite white grape!).

IMG_2155{ hair of the dog: wine tasting at new fave Clos Solène }

Happily feeling the shampoo effect, we hit up one of our favorite areas in Paso, Tin City, a little micro-neighborhood of wineries, breweries and distilleries! BarrelHouse Brewing Co. is a favorite of ours and with the heat upwards of 100 degrees, not to mention a hangover for the books, a nice cold beer was just the ticket. Feeling a bit wine tasted-out, we headed back to Richie & Tracy’s for a casual, relaxing meal al fresco and a (somewhat) early night.

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{ cheeky kiwi waiting for the grill to heat up }

DAY 4 // Having most certainly overstayed our welcome at Terra Mia, lol, we made our way leisurely back down the coast, stopping for a final, romantic evening in our favorite place of all time: Santa Barbara!

About an hour and a half’s drive later, we pulled into one of our favorite hotels, The Belmond El Encanto. We booked through American Express travel and decided to wait an hour or so to get into an upgraded room, happy to spend the time enjoying lunch and a cocktail on their terrace, followed by a little pool time. After a series of unfortunate and out-of-character events for this hotel group, we were double upgraded to a fountain suite, lol. I’ll spare you the details, as I’d like to believe our experience was simply an off day for the property.

IMG_5245{ Au Bon Climat Chardonnay on the balcony before heading into town }

Wanting to soak up all the day light possible on our last full day of vacay, we showered, cleaned up and headed down to the harbour! After a good stroll along the boardwalk, cocktails were in order. We popped into a place I’ve been DYING to try ever since it opened, Loquita. Perhaps the most successful execution of a tapas bar I’ve ever experienced, we nibbled on croquetas and pan con tomate while sipping on gorgeous and deliciously crafted Spanish-style G&T’s.

IMG_9601{ the prettiest G&Ts at Loquita }

After our warm-up course, we made our way to the Funk Zone. Fun fact: we were thiiiissssssss close to signing a lease on a space for You & Yours in the Funk Zone originally! After a few unrelated things fell through, we reevaluated and decided to stay in San Diego. Having whiffed making a reservation, we put our name in at The Lark and killed time perusing the other shops and tasting rooms in the area. After a quick wine tasting (as if we hadn’t done enough of that already omg), it was time to sit down for dinner! The Lark is one of my favorite restaurants of all time and if you’re anywhere near Santa Barbara, it’s a must! We had some of our favorites: the Little Gem salad and the scallops; and some new things too: Sea Bass and the Texas Picnic (ham, bread, pickles + pimento cheese!) of course. Full & happy, we made our way back up to the Belmond for a good night’s sleep.

IMG_4722{ Stearn’s Wharf }

DAY 5 // Again, wanting to soak up every little bit of our time in SB, we grabbed an early breakfast at the hotel and made our way back to the harbour, taking a nice long stroll along Stearns Wharf (one of Luke’s favorite places in the world!), followed by a breakfast beer at Brophy’s because why not tack another one on. Originally having planned on walking along State Street for some shopping, the heat changed our course straight back to the pool! After a couple of hours (and lunch!) by the pool, it was time to pack up and head home.

IMG_0818{ one last Rosé :( }

For more of our favorite places to eat, stay and things to do in Santa Barbara, see my previous Santa Barbara recap!

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My Three Best Career Decisions of 2017

2017 was a big year. We finally opened the business and I proceeded to get a crash course in running a small business, ready or not! What ensued was sheer joy and a looooot of learning experiences. Speaking of, below are the three most impactful career-minded decisions I made last year…

1. Working with a Business Coach… I’d met with a business coach a couple of times during a particularly rough patch of the Y&Y build out, not having had a particularly wonderful experience. And although I knew they could be game changing for business owners, I never pursued one again after that early less-than-stellar experience. It wasn’t until I attended a small meet up of like-minded business owners and met Megan that I opened up to the idea again. I immediately felt a connection with Megan, an ease. I felt instantly, almost too-good-to-be-true, comfortable with her. I decided to do a free consult session to talk about what types of things I wanted to work on and was hooked right away. I’ve just finished my first six-month stint with her and cannot say enough good things.

My main reason for wanting to work with her was, on a high level, wanting to be the best possible boss/leader/manager/business owner I could be. I know in every fiber of my being that I know what’s best for the direction of You & Yours …but all the other stuff that comes along with running a customer-facing business, I’m still learning. Managing a team of eight employees, all of which are older than you, several of which have far more industry experience than you, is hyperrrrrrr intimidating and challenging. At the time Megan and I met, this is what I was struggling with the most, and now, six months later, I feel so much more confident and capable in managing and leading my team.

I also found it incredibly beneficial just to have someone to vent to. Now most of us probably vent about work to our spouse or roommate or significant other, but when all three of those people happen to be your business partner too, it doesn’t always work out so well! #Lollll. And on a related note, I don’t always want to go to my partner with every little thing that’s bothering me. He runs his own business too, on top of being involved with me on Y&Y, and taking his time away from those two things to bitch about some random annoyance just doesn’t always feel right. SO, spoiler alert, I found myself occasionally venting to or unloading on the wrong people… namely my employees, and that’s just never a good idea.

Working with Megan allowed to funnel all of those annoyances, all of those fears and struggles and random little chips on my shoulder into one neutral, safe space where not only was I being heard, but actively coached on how to deal with them AND recognize them next time so they don’t keep being a thing. This, my friends, is HUGE. Imagine zero workplace drama, silky smooth employee-manager-boss relationships, and a massive uptick in energy and motivation. That is what working with Megan has created for me and I guarantee you can also have all those things too! And if you need help getting there, I suggest you give her a call!

2. Hiring an Admin… There was a time last year when I was spending, no joke, 60-70% of my time fielding event and partnership inquires. What felt like ALL of my free time was spent on correspondence/logistical back and forth with clients, event planners and potential brands or organizations that wanted to partner up. While I’m incredibly grateful for every email and inquiry that comes our way, managing this side of the business was not and is not my strong suit. I was doing work that I was not really that qualified to do, nor was I particularly passionate about. Working with a business coach helped me realize that if I found the right person to take over this area of our business, I would be free to direct my time towards A. work that is more productive given my strengths, and B. work that actually lit me up instead of drained me.

The main thing that kept me from hiring an administrative role (besides our payroll budget) was the fact that it it felt too self-important. I felt guilty for wanting to pass off these (what felt to me like the. most. soul-crushing) tasks and not just putting in the work myself. Not to sound like a broken record here, but Megan (see decision #1) helped me nip that dumb thought train in the bud real quick. 

Not only did I end up hiring an ‘Events & Admin Manager’, but I hit the actual jackpot with who filled the position. She’s a rock solid, organized gem of an event planner who just so happens to live close to the distillery AND has a very fitting design and marketing background. Does is get any better?! And since adding her to our team, I feel like the freakin’ Queen of strategic delegating. I’m almost too good at it now, seriously. Not only am I free to work on what I want to work on, but the other stuff is getting executed to a WHOLE other level I would have never been able to provide myself. Game. Changer. 

3. Working with a Stylist… This might sound a bit over the top but hands down one of the best career-minded decisions I made last year was working with a stylist, specifically local wardrobe stylist Conni Jespersen.

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{ Conni, helping me pick out an outfit for an upcoming panel! }

A while ago, before I fell in love with distilling, there was a time where I thought a career in fashion might be fun! I’ve always loved to sew and modify patterns and even took a special career-focussed track in high school to study fashion design and merchandising. This is all to say that I looooove getting dressed. I LOVE putting looks together, styling things and perhaps most of all – dressing my friends. Ask anyone who knew me in high school – half my closet was perpetually “out on loan” amongst my besties. Putting the perfect outfit together for an outing or celebration makes me giddy. But once I started the business, time to leisurely put looks together and get dressed at my own pace were things of the past.

Along with this sharp degradation of my free time came a rapid uptick in mandated professional “appearances,” let’s call them. Important meetings where I needed to impress, speaking engagements, photoshoots, on-camera interviews, sales appointments, meeting with other industry professionals, attending industry functions, and so on and so forth. Where my closet used to only have two jobs: “probably working from my dining room table” and “date night,” my wardrobe as a whole now had seemingly endless functions it needed to satisfy.

After attending a few of these aforementioned work things feeling less than dressed-to-impress, I decided to bite the bullet and reach out to Conni. I’d met Connie through my old boss, Cecelia (owner and proprietress of my favorite SD shopping spot – Vocabulary Boutique!) and had been following her journey on Instagram for years. What ensued was such. a. cool. experience.

First we went through my ENTIRE closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit, flatter, make me happy to wear, or appear to be in good condition. Through that process, we identified pieces or staples I lacked, pieces I wanted to replace with higher quality or updated versions, and pieces I may not naturally gravitate towards but could probably benefit from having.

Then Conni started doing what – in my opinion – Conni does best… STYLING STUFF I ALREADY HAD IN NEW, TOTALLY F-ING COOL WAYS I WOULD NEVER THINK OF BUT STILL FELT LIKE ME! Seriously, it was like I threw out half my stuff but suddenly had an entirely new wardrobe. WTF. MAGIC! Then she’d photograph those looks and put them in a BINDER for me to reference later! I’m blissfully unaware of the severe airplane turbulence I’m experiencing right now drafting this post just thinking about that blessed binder.

But perhaps my favorite perk of all you get with working with Conni was – speaking of airplanes – her help PACKING FOR TRIPS!. Y’all. I legit went to New Zealand for 9 days with nothing but a f’ing CARRY ON thanks to her. She also put together every single look I wore on the vacation I ended up getting engaged on and for that I will always be especially grateful, lol. Packing is now so soooo easy and best of all, I NEVER overpack. It’s such an underrated game changer for someone like me who looooooves to travel, often plans trips last minute, and wants to look put together no matter what, whether the trip be mostly work or mostly play.

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{ ^^ another perk: Conni helping Luke & I coordinate our engagement shoot looks! }

Phewww! Now that this post is officially a mile long, what about you!? What are the best career decisions you’ve made in the last year? I’d love to know!

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The Bishop’s Wife at Madison on Park

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Madison on Park is the ultimate combination of sophistication and charm. Nestled on the quaint main drag of University Heights, this baby blue gem of a restaurant & bar offers a truly exceptional bar program complimented by an inspired food menu. Upon entering, you’re transported by the chic indoor/outdoor space, complete with high vaulted ceilings and colorful geometric shapes. This funky yet minimalistic spot is a must for date night or a quick cocktail with friends.

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Bar Manager Danny Kuehner runs the ship, turning out everything from perfected classics to one-of-a-kind creations. For those looking for a romantic sip, The Bishop’s Wife is a perfect pink cocktail that’s bound to hit even the non-gin drinker’s spot. It’s no surprise that the Wife is our favorite, as it perfectly compliments You & Yours Distilling Co.‘s Sunday Gin with cranberries, Genepy and lemon. Served in a crystal-inspired coupe and garnished with a pop of fresh cranberries, it’s both eye catching and delicious. 

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As for their cuisine, Madison’s food is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful — make sure to order the Tuna Tartare if you’re looking for a fresh starter, and the Pork Chop won’t disappoint as a main. The watermelon stack & roasted cauliflower gratin are amazing additions to the table as well! 

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All photos by Lindsey.

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2018 Travel Plans & Bucket List

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For the first time in a few years, we’ve got quite a bit of travel lined up for 2018! The last few years have been all go-go-go, keeping our heads down, with opening You & Yours and all, but now that we’re rocking and rolling and have an epic team in place, we’re incredibly excited to hop back into our travels. Both for work and play. Here’s what we have coming up!

February – A Bachelorette trip to Cabo, then leaving for New Zealand a day later (pray for me). Luke is from NZ and we haven’t been able to make it back in a couple of years. We finally made the snap decision to pop down for a week to celebrate his father’s 65th birthday and hang out with friends and I couldn’t be more excited!

March – TWO Weddings… one in Kauai, HI and one in Jacksonville, FL.

April – A quick work trip to Cleveland (squeezing in a Cavs game!) then Miami for another bachelorette party!

May – Tel Aviv! This will be my very first Forbes 30 Under 30 global summit and I am so stoked! I’ve always wanted to check out Tel Aviv so I’m trying to swing this trip any way I can! Haven’t quite firmed up plans yet but will keep you posted. Also, my Mom’s request for her birthday this year is a trip to Santa Barbara later in the month. It’s one of Luke & I’s favorite places to visit to so we were more than happy to acquiesce.

June – Back to Cabo for another wedding!

July – December… No set-in-stone plans as of yet for the latter half of the year, but planning on heading to the UK at some point for a mixed business/pleasure jaunt. Also hoping to pop back down to the Bahamas for a little wedding planning reconnaissance!

Other trips we’re hoping to squeeze in…

  • Dying to get back to the South – Nashville, Charleston, etc., even if just for a long weekend.
  • Still need to check Montana off my list!
  • At least an SF trip or two. Two of my dearest friends now live there, which is a great excuse for a work trip too. And vice versa! Ha!

Where are you traveling to this year?! Have you been to any of the places we have planned? If so, PLEASE leave a comment or drop me an email – LKJ@Distillerista.com – Would love your recs!

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Top 5 Moments of 2017

_MGL7265{ photo cred! }

2017 was a big year. Full of some of the most rewarding and challenging moments of my life so far. I was thinking back on where I was mentally and emotionally this time last year and the tears came flooding. I remember waking up on Christmas morning 2016 with no joy. Just in the trenches. Feeling anxious and stressed and overwhelmed. It’s incredible to think how much has changed this past year. It felt so good to actually look forward to celebrating the holidays… And now I’m crying again! Read on for the top five moments of my 2017.

1. Opening You & Yours! I’m sure it goes without saying this was my proudest moment of 2017, and of my (professional) life thus far! We worked so hard for soooo long (almost three years!) to get the place open and finally doing so was the single greatest feeling in the world, though there were some lingering issues we had to navigate in those early days. Getting our production floor fully up and running a few months later was icing on the cake. Making that first official batch of Sunday Gin in my own still, on my own premises was a moment I’ll never forget… And as 2017 comes to a close, I’m happy to report our only “issue” is the fact that we’re quickly outgrowing our space! *knocks on wood*

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2. Forbes 30 Under 30 This was a total curve ball! Never in a million years did I honestly think I’d be named Forbes’ 30 Under 30… especially just mere months after opening the business. HOWEVER, fun fact: I had three (lofty) You & Yours-related goals for 2017 and nabbing a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 was the only one I actually checked off the list! Haha! I’ll take it.

Equally as rewarding as making the 2018 list was traveling to NYC for the launch party and meeting other list makers. Having conversations with others who’d been through similar struggles and could relate to how hard you work, what things you sacrifice while building a passion-fueled business, etc. was incredibly refreshing. It gave me a re-energizing sense of validation that has me super excited to dive into new projects next year.

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3. Launching our 3rd spirit & new cocktail menu. Although it took us a little longer than I’d hoped, we finally released our third offering at the distillery – our Winter Gin! We threw a party to commemorate the occasion and the amount of support we felt was overwhelming! We are so fortunate to have such a supportive hospitality community here in San Diego.

Along with the Winter Gin release we debuted a completely revamped cocktail menu. The entire front of house staff chipped in this time around and I love that everyone behind the bar is represented on the menu in some way. It was so much fun to design the concepts and work as a team to execute them. Every time I look at the menu or see a cocktail snap pop up on Instagram, it brings a huge smile to my face.

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4. Taking a real vacay… Another big moment for me more recently was finally feeling like You & Yours has a ROCK solid team in place. One that can allow for me to take a (baby) step back from day-to-day tasting room operations if/when necessary. Coupled with the fact that Luke’s business also hired some key support this year, it allowed us to take some real time off, just the two of us, and leave the laptops at home. We’re feeling so grateful this holiday season for the people we get to work with and the time we get to spend together because of them!

For my birthday a few weeks ago, we took off for a little over a week to the Exumas, a small island chain in The Bahamas. This area is one of my favorite places in the world, as my family and I have been traveling there for over 20 years! It’s also the first place Luke came on vacation with me when we started dating, so it’s super special. It’s also a place that didn’t require any learning curve upon arrival or much planning beyond just booking flights and accommodation, seeing as we’re already super familiar with the area and activities, etc. This was a big plus seeing as all we wanted to do was relax and recharge! See more pics on my Insta!

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5. Getting engaged! As a surprise to perhaps no one but me (hah!), Luke popped the question while we were on vacation. I didn’t think Staniel Cay could be a more special place to me/us, but it sure is now! After almost seven years together and some huge personal and professional milestones under our belt, the timing felt so right. Beyond ecstatic for what 2018 has in store for us both!

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San Fransisco Sales Trip!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-2{ Gin selection at Bitters + Bottles }

With a day to kill before meeting up with a friend in San Fransisco a few weekends ago, I decided to plan a few sales appointments with our California distributor. We’d previously intended to focus solely on San Diego accounts for at least the first few months and had given securing accounts in Northern California little thought. But with a full day to myself and that start-up mentality need to be productive at all times, it felt like the perfect thing to do!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-1{ THE cutest mini flask of Yellow Chartreuse @ Bitters + Bottles }

First, we hit a few key off-premise accounts, a.k.a. super cool little boutique bottle shops scattered all over the Bay Area. The first one, Bitters + Bottles, in South San Fransisco, was especially cool to visit because the owner had actually visited us at the distillery the week prior while on vacation! I was pretty pleased to be leaving her samples that she could return home to after the rest of her trip, with the experience still fresh in her mind.

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-5{ The shelf of my dreams at Alchemy Bottle Shop }

Second stop was Alchemy Bottle Shop in Oakland. This place had such a clean and airy vibe to it, it reminded me of our own tasting room! Beautiful shelves painted the softest blue really let the bottles of premium spirits pop. I can’t wait to see our product alongside their gorgeous current line-up. Another fun thing about Alchemy is their Gin of the Month Club! Fingers crossed, members may see Sunday Gin as one of their upcoming shipments. 😉

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-4{ Can’t wait to make a batch of Martinis with this! }

Our last off-premise account was a quaint little liquor store in Berkley selling wines, specialty bottled beers and a small but thoughtful selection of spirits. The owner, who tasted on the spot, was incredibly friendly and supportive and raved about what we’re doing at You & Yours. It was such an adrenaline rush to hear that positive of a reaction from someone miles away from San Diego, who had surely never heard of us, but really appreciated both my story and the spirits themselves.  Such a fun moment!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-6{ Carefully curated spirits selection in downtown Berkely }

Hopefully, Bay Area residents can find Y&Y Vodka and Sunday Gin at all three of the above bottle shops very soon!

SF-Sales-Trip-Distillerista-3{ The perfect Aperitivo cart at Bitter + Bottles }

To close out the day, we stopped by one of my dream accounts, Whitechapel, back in the city. Whitechapel, if you’re not familiar, is a hip cocktail bar in the Tenderloin that focusses on gin, boasting one of the largest selections of gin in the whole country! To see Sunday Gin at Whitechapel, even if just on the back bar alongside all the other gins I love to drink, is a dream come true! Thanks so much to Megan at Whitechapel for the kind words and for helping me check the box on one of my bucket list accounts. :)

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Cocktail Crawl: Gaslamp Quarter

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{Sunday Gin & tonic @ Queensborough}

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter gets a bad wrap for tourist traps and baseball traffic, but if you know where to go, worthy cocktail havens do exist! Thanks to long-time stand-bys like Vin de Syrah Wine Parlor, La Puerta and Prohibition, as well as promising recent additons like The Smoking Gun & Queensborough, a classy, quality cocktail-fueled downtown experience is well within reach.

Prohibition This speakeasy-style cocktail bar is my favorite not-so-hidden gem in downtown. Descend the stairs into the den-like space, complete with a makeshift stage area for live jazz. Enjoying one of Ryan Andrews’ stellar dealer’s choices while listening to one of their consistently wonderful musical acts is my favorite thing to do with out-of-town guests!

Vin de Syrah A cheekily designed hidden entrance sets the tone at this subtly Alice in Wonderland-themed wine bar/club. Guests inside can watch a live feed from the hidden camera that catches first-timers trying to find the door! Besides a great wine list and full bar, I love the relaxed vibe and incredible ambiance coupled with music from awesome DJs.

La Puerta This lively Mexican joint is a sure bet for people watching, has a great tequila selection and best of all, offers the opportunity for an epic plate of nachos to soak up all those cocktails! Make sure to try the Californication (Mezcal + lemon + lime + Cabernet barrel-aged Tequila).

Queensborough Newcomer Queensborough wows with a split upstairs/downstairs concept. At street level, a cozy library-esque bar somewhat designed to resemble a subway station entrance is great for after work drinks. Downstairs, a unique relaxed club-like atmosphere beckons. The music, while vibey and seductive, never gets so loud you can’t pro-flirt with your tinder date.

The Smoking Gun Multi-concept ventures seem to be the way to go these days and The Smoking Gun is at least four in one if we’re counting. This new Market Street spot offers a hip coffee shop (Spill The Beans) serving bagels in the mornings, as well as an open and airy cocktail bar serving casual yet elevated bar fare with BBQ tendencies. As if that wasn’t enough, the cocktail bar side boasts ping pong and foosball tables for your rallying pleasure. Eric Johnson is at the helm, so you can rest assured all craft cocktail libations will be top notch!

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